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Closing the skills gap – how important is it for future construction?


For those of us who spent time at UK Construction Week recently the answer is a resounding ‘very’.

Several seminar sessions explored the issues including ‘The Skills Debate – Moving words into action’, ‘Retaining and attracting talent in the UK Construction sector’, ‘How can the home build industry improve traditional skills training to overcome site skills shortages’ and ‘Best practice approaches to apprenticeships in housing’ the conversation is gathering momentum.

In the ‘State of House Building in the UK’ debate in the Build Show on Tuesday, Kevin Crawford – CIAT, John Stewart – HBF, Chris Carr – FMB Home Builders’ Group, Patrick Law – Barratt Developments and Gwyn Roberts – BRE, looked at what are the current challenges facing the UK Housing industry and what challenges will be faced – the lack of relevant training and skills came out on top.

Wednesday, on the Main Stage, saw Pauline Traetto, Director of the BRE Academy alongside Rupert Scott – TRADA, Alex Birks – CITB, Rob Pannell – Zero Carbon Hub, Tom Storey – K10 and Bridget Bartlett – CITB take part in a debate around ‘Facing up to the construction industry skills shortage’.

They identified five key challenges

  1. Attraction – how do we make the construction sector interesting to young people?
  2. Relevance – how do we ensure that industry and education bodies are talking to make sure that the training is relevant to the skills shortages?
  3. Practical – how do we train people on some of the bigger construction challenges such as large infrastructure projects?
  4. Diversity – with the industry traditionally being seen as a ‘boys club’ how do we attract more females?
  5. Retention – how do we ensure that we are retaining the skilled people through career development and opportunities?

Panellist agreed that a more collaborative approach to training and education along with government funding and support would help close the current gap but more work was needed to identify the scale of the challenge.

The‘True’ Skills Gap survey being conducted by the BRE Academy, with support from CITB and others  aims to do just that. It goes live this month.

It is time to stop talking about the problem and start solving it.